Editor's note: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of the seven cycling titles that made him a legend. The decision follows this month's finding by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that there is "overwhelming" evidence that Armstrong was involved as a professional cyclist in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program."
[Updated as 1:43 p.m. ET] An insurance company that covers the performance bonus for Lance Armstrong says it wants all of the money paid to the cyclist returned.
SCA Promotions said it "is considering all legal options to pursue a return of the funds paid."
"Mr. Armstrong is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France races and, as a result, it is inappropriate and improper for him to retain any bonus payments made by SCA."
The BBC has estimated the total amount is $7.5 million.
[Updated as 8:44 a.m. ET] Another day, another sponsor breaking from Lance Armstrong.
The fallout from the cyclist's doping accusations has forced another sponsor to jump ship. This time, it is Oakley. Last week Armstrong stepped down as chairman of the cancer charity Livestrong. Then he was stripped of his sponsorships with Nike and Anheuser-Busch.
"When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility," the company said in a statement. "We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest. We believe the Livestrong Foundation has been a positive force in the lives of many affected by cancer and, at this time, Oakley will continue to support its noble goals."
[Updated at 7:54 a.m. ET] We've gotten a copy of the press release from the cycling body that explains its decision on Lance Armstrong as well as its reaction to the doping report.
The International Cycling Union said after reading the doping report it was clear that all members of the U.S. Postal Service team, which Armstrong was a part of, showed "no inclination to share the full extent of what they knew until they were subpoenaed or called by federal investigators and that their only reason for telling the truth is because the law required them to do so."
The group goes on to say that these investigations have forced riders to confront the truth about their stories.
"Their accounts of their past provide a shocking insight into the USPS Team where the expression to 'win at all costs' was redefined in terms of deceit, intimidation, coercion and evasion," the statement says. " Their testimony confirms that the anti-doping infrastructure that existed at that time was, by itself, insufficient and inadequate to detect the practices taking place within the team."
Read more of the group's statement here (PDF)
"Today's young riders do not deserve to be branded or tarnished by the past or to pay the price for the Armstrong era," the press release continues.
[Updated at 7:41 a.m. ET] So will the big blow to Armstrong wake up the rest of the cycling community with regard to doping? Can we expect to see a massive change and a doping-free sport?
International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid isn't quite ready to go that far.
"I don't think in any aspect of society there are no cheats," he said. "I do believe that doping can be hugely reduced."
The keys are education programs and how teams are structured, he said.
[Updated at 7:41 a.m. ET] "Lance Armstrong deserves to be forgotten from cycling," McQuaid said.
For a man who has been at the top of the mountain in this sport, this is quite a long and brutal fall.
What do you think? Vote in the poll below if you think the cycling body made the right decision and tell us what you think in the comments below.
[Updated at 7:37 a.m. ET] A bit of explanation here. The cycling agency has said it will not appeal any decisions to the Court of Arbitration regarding the dossier on doping. Instead the group moved directly and stripped Armstrong of his titles.
That means this is all said and done. His titles are gone forever.
[Updated at 7:30 a.m. ET] There's only one word that describes how International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid felt after reading the doping report on Armstrong: "Sickened."
Despite the Armstrong blow being a major blight on the sport of cycling, McQuaid emphasized that "cycling has a future."
[Updated at 7:26 a.m. ET] "Huge." "Inevitable." "Shocking." "Sad." "Depressing."
Those are the first words being used to describe the reaction to Lance Armstrong being stripped of his titles on Twitter.
[Updated at 7:11 a.m. ET] The damage to Lance Armstrong's reputation is massive.
First he stepped down as chairman of the cancer charity Livestrong. Then he was stripped of his sponsorships with Nike and Anheuser-Busch.
Now the former seven-time Tour de France winner has been banned from the sport for life. Fourteen years of his career are officially wiped from the record books.
[Updated at 7:08 a.m. ET] The news is the ultimate blow for the cyclist.
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid says.
Will anything change after disgrace?
[Updated at 7:05 a.m. ET] The International Cycling Union has stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles because of the conclusion he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Highlights of the Armstrong report
"This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads and has had to begin anew. ... It will do so again with vigor," International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid says.
[Posted at 6:56 a.m. ET] The International Cycling Union, the sport's governing body, is set to rule on the agency's recommendation that Armstrong be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
His reputation already in tatters after a lifetime ban by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Armstrong finds out Monday whether he will be scrubbed from the record books for the seven feats that made him a cycling legend.
The USADA found "overwhelming" evidence that he was involved as a professional cyclist in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program."
The agency then announced it would ban Armstrong from the sport for life and strip him of his results dating from 1998. The decision wiped out 14 years of his career.
Should the International Cycling Union concur with the USADA's recommendation, it will be up to the organizers of the Tour de France whether it will nominate alternate winners for the 1999-2005 tours. The Amaury Sport Organisation, which runs the 21-day event, has said it will decide after the ruling.
Where are the facts? Anti-Doping Agency that there is "overwhelming"(thats really factful) evidence that Armstrong was involved as a professional cyclist in "the most sophisticated (wow), professionalized (oh my god) and successful doping program(holy cow)."
Now these words are definitely going to be factual. Rather than mentioning the name of the drug(s) that was used, it is enough to say that he used medicines in a sophisticated, professional and successful way. And I thought he prayed to cow dung for years to cure himself of his cancer.
So if Lance has to unjustifiably (IMHO) pay all his winnings back, make his ex team mates pay back all their win bonuses gained from his efforts. Then we'll see some wailing and bleating! OR will we see USADA cough up the cash on their behalf for their treachery and assistance?
Where are the results? This is just what we hear from the media, and we all know how that goes an this sounds like someone trying to get even because if you look at the whole picture, nothing about this is right. If he gets strip why don't the dirty saints get stripped? They promoted for how many years "violence" and "bullying" to get what a win? So it's ok to teach children that you can be violent and a bully in sports but not drugs "that by the way was across and board". There is nothing right about any of these, including the other sport icons that have been single out for drug abuse and what about the coaches, the manager, the doctors, etc etc what is their punishment in all of this?
He is a cheater and deserves our scorn. Those of you who still believe this liar are deluded.
No – not deluded, just waiting for actual evidence that would stand up in a court of law. After thousands of man hours and millions of $ spent on this witch-hunt, USADA are hardly going to stand down and say "Sorry – we got it wrong". No they are going to publish every little bit of heresay 'evidence' and supposition they can muster, even if it IS gained by coercion, to justify the cost to the taxpayer. If drugs WERE used, let them say which ones and prove it. If it's a designer drug, SOMEBODY must know about it, or is it another conspiracy theory? Heaven help us if judges and juries act favourably to this kind of 'evidence'!
...so the French finally got their way...it took them a long time, but they kept at it...so far no media outlet has published any report of any positive test or admission by Armstrong....no evidence, no proof, just bitter losers that got caught cheating themselves, I guess they didnt have Lance's magic wand to test clean....j'accuse, International Cycling Union, j'accuse . ...
And those who are ignorant of performance-enhancers prevail. Seriously, someone just said jail time?
Heres a reality check: In every single Tour de France win, more than just Lance were using PED's. You think your favorite sports team is clean of drugs? Ya right. Just a few days ago a former Steelers doctors was arrested and faces 185 counts relating to steroids and HGH. Its everywhere. Football, basketball, cycling, baseball, you name it.
i do not mean this comment to sound "mean-spirited", but this man must be, in fairness, tried for grand theft. he has stolen millions from many. you may say "innocent until proven guilty", but with such an over-whelming prepoderance of evidence, i say "guilty until he proves his innocence".
I'll always see Lance Armstrong as the winner of those 7 Tour de France trophies!
PS: I've banned UCI cycling for good.
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